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July 1970

Autoimmunity in Chronic Brain Syndrome: A Preliminary Report

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;23(1):61-64. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01750010063011

CHRONIC brain syndrome is characterized by diffuse, irreversible damage to brain tissue function of unknown etiology.1 The patient experiences progressive impairment of orientation, memory, intellect, judgment, and affect. Electroencephalogram findings often reflect diffuse brain damage. At present, the prognosis is poor. Psychotic and neurotic personality disturbances related to preexisting personality patterns frequently arise.

Two major mechanisms have been proposed to account for autoimmune disease: (1) breakdown in sequestration of antigen (Ag) and (2) loss of immune tolerance. Several investigators have suggested that certain Ag like thyroglobulin, lens protein, and central nervous system (CNS) Ag are normally sequestered and do not constitute accessible Ag.2 One may predict that an injury or pathologic process which allows these normally sequestered CNS Ag to escape into the general circulation would create accessible Ag leading to immune response. This may be of either the circulating antibody (ab) type or cellular immunity type. As